©Wellcome Library, London

Lister left Scotland in 1877 to take up a post at King's College Hospital, then in Lincoln's Inn Fields. He was an indefatigable worker and promoter of ‘Listerism' which was gradually taken up throughout Europe and the United States though not without opposition in some surgical departments. At Bellevue Hospital, New York, the surgeon William Halsted (1852-1922), was obliged to operate in a tent within the hospital grounds because his colleagues hated the smell of carbolic acid. Some surgeons exchanged carbolic acid for the more innocuous iodine. Nevertheless, in 1902, after Edward VII had undergone a successful operation for appendicitis, he told Lister that ‘if it had not been for you and your work, I would not be sitting here today'.

Photograph, 1893.